When we engage in conversation, it’s important to remember that it’s not just about us. Conversations are a two-way street, where both parties should have the opportunity to express their thoughts, ideas, and feelings. However, some people tend to dominate conversations and turn them into a platform for their own self-promotion or validation. This behavior is known as conversational narcissism, and it can be frustrating and alienating for the person on the receiving end. If you want to improve your communication skills and avoid being a conversational narcissist, here are ten tips to keep in mind:
1. Listen actively
Active listening is one of the most important skills in any conversation. It means paying attention to what the other person is saying, asking clarifying questions, and showing empathy and understanding. Avoid interrupting or talking over the other person, and try to resist the urge to steer the conversation back to yourself.
2. Ask open-ended questions
Asking open-ended questions is a great way to keep a conversation flowing and show that you’re interested in the other person’s thoughts and experiences. These types of questions can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no,” and they encourage the other person to share more information. Examples of open-ended questions include “What was your favorite part of your vacation?” or “How did you get interested in that hobby?”
3. Avoid one-upping
One-upping is a common conversational tactic where someone tries to top the other person’s story or experience with one of their own. For example, if someone shares a story about a recent trip they took, a one-upper might respond with a story about a more exotic or adventurous trip they took. One-upping can come across as competitive and dismissive of the other person’s experience.
4. Practice empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. When you’re having a conversation, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see things from their perspective. Acknowledge their feelings and validate their experiences, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them.
5. Share the floor
Conversations are meant to be shared, so make sure you’re not dominating the conversation. Allow the other person to speak and take turns sharing your thoughts and experiences. If you find yourself talking for an extended period, pause and ask the other person for their input.
6. Avoid interrupting
Interrupting is a common conversational faux pas that can be very frustrating for the other person. It’s important to let the other person finish their thought before jumping in with your own. If you’re worried you might forget what you wanted to say, jot down a note and come back to it when the other person is finished speaking.
7. Stay on topic
It’s easy for conversations to veer off-topic, especially if you’re discussing something you’re passionate about. However, it’s important to stay focused on the original topic and avoid monopolizing the conversation. If you find yourself straying off-topic, gently steer the conversation back to the original subject.
8. Don’t hijack the conversation
Hijacking the conversation is a form of conversational narcissism where someone takes over the conversation and turns it into a platform for their own opinions or experiences. This can be particularly frustrating if the original topic was something important or personal to the other person. Make sure you’re not hijacking the conversation by giving the other person space to speak and share their thoughts.
9. Avoid name-dropping
Name-dropping is a common conversational tactic where someone drops the names of important or influential people they know in order to impress or elevate their status. This can come across as arrogant and self-centered, and it can be a major turn-off for the other person. Instead of name-dropping, focus on the substance of the conversation and try to engage in a genuine exchange of ideas.
10. Be mindful of body language
Body language plays a big role in communication, and it can either facilitate or hinder a conversation. Make sure you’re giving the other person your full attention by maintaining eye contact, nodding or smiling to show you’re engaged, and avoiding distracting behaviors like fidgeting or checking your phone.
In conclusion, being a good conversationalist means being mindful of others and fostering a sense of mutual respect and understanding. By practicing active listening, empathy, and open-mindedness, you can avoid falling into the trap of conversational narcissism and cultivate more meaningful and fulfilling relationships with the people around you. Remember, conversations are an opportunity to learn, grow, and connect, and by staying focused on the other person, you can make the most of every interaction.